Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 03/24/2012

(Sung to the tune of Bow Wow Wow's version of "I Want Candy")

This Batman guy just got his ass beat
Fighting Owls ain't all that sweet.
Becky Montcrief's in Penance under fire.
Drake Sinclair's position's dire

I want comics, I want comics

Wonder Woman beats a hellspawn down
Despite Hephaestus's toothy frown
Donist World, just what the doctor ordered
Sweet books to make your mouth water

Yeah, that's right! *pht-buzzzzzz* (that's a party blower folks...I have no idea how to write that, just know it's a party blower). Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and most ardent Donist World reader--and critic--and I just realized that we hit the two year mark here at Donist World. Yup, 10,774 views over 213...oops, make that 214...posts over two years. Sure, more popular blogs add a couple zeroes onto their daily view, but heck, I ain't complaining. Hold on, let me light up Obie's cigar, and don't worry, he's nearly 3-years old and it's almost 7:00 AM, which is the perfect time for dogs to smoke cigars. I'm going to pour us some Cristal to celebrate this momentous occasion, but the funny thing is that I always thought Cristal was champagne and was kept in a bottle, not a crystal skull that says "Vodka" on it. Anyhow, while we celebrate, pour yourself an early morning...errr...something and have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #20
The Sixth Gun # 20 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. The Sixth Gun never fails to surprise or remind the reader that although this comic is indeed a Western, it also travels in the supernatural and the weird. Mixing genres is a potentially dangerous affair if not handled carefully and can pull the reader out of a story soon after they jump in, but Bunn and Hurtt's fantastic comic--one of my favorites on the stand--has nothing to worry about in this regard. The bizarre and the mystical weave in and out of The Sixth Gun beautifully, yet the creators still manage to deliver unexpected shocks that are far removed from reality while fitting into this fictional world in the most believable way.
Becky Montcrief's life keeps going from bad to worse in her quest to find her missing friend, Drake Sinclair. Cutoff from the Sixth Gun and pinned down behind the very well that has poisoned and addicted the inhabitants of two warring towns, Becky, a local boy from New Penance and Carlyle, the leader of Old Penance, the same man who just tried to kill her, have to work together to survive. Thankfully, Carlyle gains the upper hand(s) in an unexpected way. Meanwhile Drake is not having the best of days as he is tortured by an agent of the Knights of Solomon who has to keep Drake alive, yet does not have to make the man comfortable. Drake gets the worst pedicure ever and the reason for Penance's--both of them--existence becomes clear. One of the most horrific torture devices I can imagine is introduced and Becky taps into the power of the gun, but it is the sacrifice of an unlikely hero that saves Becky, freeing her to rescue Drake.
Bunn and Hurtt successfully deliver a gun fight, a standoff and its resolution all in one comic, while also bringing the chills and willies from the pages where Drake is being tortured. Criminy that's going to give me nightmares. Brrrrr. The Sixth Gun continues to be one of the most unique titles on the stand and at twenty issues in, I am just as engaged as the day I first discovered this fantastic comic book, if not more so. This issue is a tense, well-written and thought out tale driven by beautiful art with flowing action scenes that had me whipping through the pages. As always, I have to mention Bill Crabtree's striking colors that set the tone for every panel. The Sixth Gun is a book more people should be reading. There's a television show coming and a third trade on the way, so it's not too late to jump in. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #7
Batman #7 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. I've mentioned before that Batman was one of those characters who I loved as a kid and through the Dark Knight and Year One stages, but ultimately was a character I gave up on more than a decade ago. Enter Scott Snyder. Snyder's fantastic and oftentimes terrifying run on Detective Comics not only brought me back to reading a Batman title--even though that character was Dick Grayson at the time--he turned me into a fan again which continues with Bruce Wayne in the current Batman title. Now with a fearsome collective of villains in the Court of Owls, Batman has me eager for every new issue coming out.
A nearly broken, and momentarily dead, Batman's life is jumpstarted by a Suicide Girl named Harper, who I've never heard of before (Note to self: look into who this character is). As Batman literally crawls back home, the brief look at the Court of Owl's Talon creation process is revealed. Alfred brings Batman back to the Bat Cave and we see just how close the Owls came to crushing Gotham's protector. Bruce begins to examine a "dead" Talon and reveals a startling secret to Nightwing about the identity of the thing strapped to the table before them. Finally, the Owls begin their official introduction to Gotham City and a dark time looms for all who cross their path.
This issue ratcheted back the tension of the previous issues to prepare for what looks to be an even more intense ride. Snyder and Capullo have done a wonderful job showing us a Batman who is fighting to regain control after being systematically torn down. The lovely yet disturbing introductory pages hint that Bruce is not doing so well at it. Although this issue was missing the action of last issue it did serve to provide a nice breather to reconnect with both Bruce and Dick, while providing a glimpse into the Court of Owls and their Talons that will probably give me nightmares; those owl masks are horrific in their simplicity. Capullo delivers some of his most stunning pages to date and FCO's colors push those pages to intense heights. For a lead in to a (semi)event I couldn't be more excited to see what outlandish things come next. Bring on the Court of Owls! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #7
Wonder Woman #7 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics. For the past decade I have been considering picking up a Wonder Woman graphic novel or two, but there have been so many runs with so many creators that choosing one just seemed a Herculean a task. So I never picked up a single one. Then came the new 52, with a refreshed continuity and a brand spanking new start to a character I have always loved. I couldn't resist...thank goodness.
Two more gods are introduced this issue: The trigger happy Eros as a beautiful man with twin golden guns and Hephaestus the forger, a hairless, sharp-toothed beast with smoldering hands. Eros agrees to lead Wonder Woman and the gang to Hephaestus in an effort to arm them as they prepare to venture to Hell to rescue the abducted Zola. Unfortunately Hell will not have that and sends a monster to deal with them. For Diana, defeating a giant smoldering salamander is a simple matter, but accepting the truth about Hephaestus's many workers proves to be a more difficult matter. Armed with limited information Wonder Woman jumps to a wrong conclusion that leaves her questioning her resolve and ashamed at her actions on the eve of her descent into Hell.
Gods be praised! I loved this issue. Azzarello delivers some fantastic character moments with Wonder Woman, Eros and Hephaestus as well as dropping in tidbits of the Amazon's history and methods for keeping the population going that I was not expecting and found startling in the best of ways. Cliff Chiang is back and as good as fill-in artist Tony Akins was on the past couple of issues, Chiangs touch on this series makes this book visually stunning; just have a look at the Hephaestus splash and at Diana's expressions throughout. Colorist Matthew Wilson plays up the emotions of each scene by cleverly changing up the color palette in interesting ways depending on the light sources or action in each panel. The whole book was beautiful in look and story and Wonder Woman continues to be one of the best books to come out of the 52. If you are a fan of greek mythology and want a book with a strong female lead that has thus far stayed out of the tights and capes rigamarole, then you must pick up this great series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items - I was really pleased with the high quality of the three titles mentioned above, but there were really no other comics or graphic novels that I read this week as I have been hammering through the novel Game of Thrones, which I hope to finish this weekend. I will mention that I downloaded the Archie: The Married Life graphic novel through the iPad Archie app and I hope to begin reading it this coming week. It strikes me as a bizarro world-like twist that I am excited to read an Archie book, but after reading the first issue of the Archie Marries Veronica storyline, I was incredibly moved by the situations and the harsh reality all of the character's had grown into. It was striking, sad, and entirely relatable and I have not stopped thinking about that story since January when I first read it. Make mine Archie! After decades of superheroes, I have finally seen the light for something I never fully understood.
Mixed berry scones. Every Friday, while I tighten up what will be the "Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods" blog post, my wife makes me something she calls special breakfast. Why she does this for me I will never understand, but it is truly a perfect way to end what consistently manages to be a stressful jobby-job week. I feel like Homer Simpson drooling on my keyboard just thinking about these scones...screw it, I'm going to have another.
I'm looking forward to this weekend as I will be going to a beer tasting with friends on Saturday and finally going to see John Carter--after a stop at the Hollister Brewing Company of course. I would love to see The Hunger Games, but I figure I will let the teens filter out over the next few weeks so I can actually enjoy the movie instead of wanting to throttle children texting and chatting during the movie.

Slice Into the Woods

K12 Schools - I'm going to be brief here as I need to do a little more research on this company...keyword "company." Amy informed me the other night that there is a company called K12 (Stock code: LRN) that is a virtual school that parents can opt to have their children enroll in as opposed to going to a regular public school. My initial problems with this are:
1) For-profit education screams conflicts of interest and not necessarily what is best for most of the kids enrolled.
2) Severely underfunded public schools opting to go a less costly route and loosing face-to-face educators to a software based school model.
3) Public funding funneling into a private, for-profit company.
Again, I need to look further into this, but everything about these "schools" screams bad idea.

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